Kaitlyn McLintock
January 03, 2020 8:31 am
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Kaitlyn McLintock

I’ve been passionate about skincare ever since I was a rosy-cheeked little girl who would steal a squeeze of her mom’s moisturizer when she wasn’t looking. At around 12 years old, I remember luxuriating in the foamy citrus scent of my older cousin’s face wash, and more than once, I felt real joy upon purchasing an inexpensive exfoliating scrub with my babysitting earnings.

My love for skincare products didn’t change when I grew up to be a full-fledged beauty editor, but my relationship with them did change. I started curating elaborate routines began testing lots of new products on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes, even daily basis. With so many products within reach, I found myself just going through the motions, slathering on a moisturizer here, rinsing off a face mask there… Soon enough, I began treating my skincare routine like it was a chore to be completed rather than a ritual to be savored. What’s more, I was weakening my skin’s natural function with an influx of too many active ingredients from products that it didn’t need—my skin was asking for an intentional skincare routine, and I just wasn’t listening.

Finally, I reached a point when I realized I needed to overhaul my routine to bring awareness back into the mix, paying attention to what my skin was telling me so that I could feed it what it actually needed, not just what I assumed it needed. Additionally, I also needed to change my attitude in order to bring joy and reverence back to my skincare routine. While I’ve finally gotten the hang of my new intentional skincare routine after many months and lots of trial and error, I’m recommitting to it for the New Year, asking experts for advice on how to bring intention to skincare. These are four steps you can take to create an intentional skincare routine.

Step one: Treat your skincare routine as an opportunity for “me time.”

The best way to begin an intentional skincare routine is to focus on how you treat your skincare routine itself. Do you view it as something you “have” to do? The first step is reframing your perspective to see skin care as an intrinsic part of self-care. All three of the experts I reached out to for this story agree that shifting perspective is the first intrinsic step. Take it from Indie Lee, founder of the namesake clean skincare brand.

“It’s easy to feel like we don’t have any time for ourselves when our phones are constantly buzzing, and we fill up our schedules with work and social obligations,” says Merrady Wickes, beauty director of The Detox Market. “Personally, I have never been able to develop a consistent meditation practice, but I am a self-care queen when it comes to skincare. It is my time, twice a day, to totally unplug and enjoy a sensorial experience that’s purely for me. An intentional skincare routine is a perfect way to reclaim a little slice of the day for yourself.”

Valerie Grandury, founder of Odacité, agrees. “Skin care is an opportunity to slow down and reconnect with ourselves. A parenthesis for the daily stresses, a space that we can open to consciousness, practice being in the moment, take some deep breaths, repeat a mantra, or set an intention. By doing so, you transform your skincare routine into a pause for self-love.”

Start by putting your phone on silent, or leaving it outside the room altogether, because the key to an intentional skincare routine is to be fully present and fully aware. Then, try taking a few deep breaths—this is something I do since it helps to relieve any anxiety I feel in the morning and any stress I feel at night. Once I feel calm and set, I’ll begin to wash my face slowly and carefully, taking time to engage my senses by noticing the texture and scent of my cleanser, before rinsing my skin and moving on to the other steps in my routine.

Right now, I’m loving the Kaplan MD Diamond Contour Supercharged 1 Minute Facial and Indie Lee Purifying Face Wash. The former gently exfoliates my skin to keep it smooth and plump without irritating it or causing any extra winter redness, while the latter keeps my combination skin in check, hydrating the dry parts of my face and dissolving excess oil in the oily parts. I also love the fact that it contains java plum, orange, lavender, clove, burdock, and mandarin extracts for a punch of antioxidants.

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Step two: Set an intention for your skin care.

Once you have reframed your perspective, it’s time to set an intention, which will help you identify your wants, needs, and goals. “Ask yourself, ‘What would I like to bring more into my life?’ By simply asking yourself this question, you open an energy channel,” Grandury says. “Once you have your answer, stay with that intention throughout your skincare routine. I love to bring in a crystal vibration to support the intention.” She recommends the Odacité crystal contour Gua sha tool. “Choose rose quartz for love, blue sodalite for peace of mind and harmony, and green aventurine for good luck and new opportunities.”

Gua sha is a form of facial massage, which carries its own benefits. “Gua sha is an ancient Chinese medicine practice that involves using a large, flat stone, specially sculpted for the purpose, to gently massage the face, jaw, and neck,” Wickes explains. “It boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage, while also being wonderful for stress and tension relief. I especially love it for soothing my chronically tight jaw, and encouraging my forehead lines to soften.” While it might take a little practice to master, soon it will be second nature. “Once you get the hang of it, you can just Netflix and Gua sha.” Pro tip: Use a serum or face oil before using your Gut sha tool so that it easily glides over the skin.

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Step three: Use high-quality, plant-based skincare products.

Your next step in creating an intentional skincare routine is to focus on using high-quality and (ideally) plant-based products. This will not only help you savor your routine as something special and luxurious, but it will also help keep your skin healthy. “You have the power to choose which ingredients you want to put on your body,” Grandury says. “This choice is part of bringing intention in your skincare routine. By choosing products that don’t compromise your health, nor this beautiful planet and the generations to come, you practice a beautiful act of loving-kindness toward yourself, the environment, and all living beings of this planet.”

Wickes agrees. “I think one of the most important things you can do is choose products made with high-quality, plant-based ingredients and to skip as many synthetic fillers and fragrances as possible. Smaller indie brands focus on their formulas, versus crazy packaging and marketing, and the benefits show on your skin. Some brands even specifically specialize in sensorial skincare that creates an extra special experience. Some favorites include SkinOwl, Josh Rosebrook, and SPARITUAL for body care. If you have no idea what works for you, take advantage of sample programs—you can sample almost anything on The Detox Market website.”

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Step four: Listen to your skin and switch up your skincare products accordingly.

Here’s the most important part of any intentional skincare routine—listening to your skin. It’s so easy to become entrenched in your normal routine to the point where you just go through the motions, ignoring signs from your skin. Does it feel a little tight and dehydrated today? Amp up the moisture. Is it looking congested in your T-zone? Whip out an exfoliating product to treat blackheads. Whatever you do, do it with mindfulness.

“Just like you don’t eat the same food every day, you should not feed your skin with the same products all the time,” Grandury says. “At Odacité, we go beyond skin type; we look at skin concerns. Most of us have 2 to 4 main skin concerns that can change from day to day, and are most of the time linked to environmental factors like weather, sleep, stress, pollution, diet, hormones, etc….” For this reason, Odacité created serum concentrates that can either work alone for an intensive care treatment or as a booster by mixing 2-3 drops into your regular moisturizer, so you can switch it up depending on your skin’s current needs.

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Follow these four steps, and you’ll be well on your way to fostering an intentional skincare routine that makes you and your skin feel happy, healthy, and well cared for. Trust me, there’s no better time to commit to mindfulness than now, as we enter a brand new year.